Friday, October 30, 2009

U.S. Attorney Buchanan to Resign

U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania Mary Beth Buchanan says she will step down November 16. Buchanan was appointed in September 2001 after 13 years as ans Assistant U.S. Attorney. She says serving the Western District of Pennsylvania has been and honor and she's looking forward to the next chapter in her career. She did not say what that would be, but she's been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for Congress to challenge Democratic incumbent Jason Altmire next year.

Her replacement will probably be made by the traditional “advise and consent” process rather than the quick nomination method used by the Bush administration.
That’s according to Duquesne University Law Professor Joseph Mistick who says the eventual nominee will be confirmed by the U.S. Senate in the traditional fashion, rather than by a simple nomination.

“It is possible, with a change that the Bush administration sponsored to the Patriot Act, that the Attorney General could appoint a United States Attorney as an interim U.S. Attorney, and that would bypass the advise and consent process,” says Mistick. “That’s frowned upon, of course, because the other process has served us very well throughout our history.”

He says the advise and consent process is much more beneficial to specific regions, because US Attorneys often hold a regional role as more than just a prosecutor.

“In the early 90s, for example, now State Attorney General Tom Corbett … was instrumental in the creation of and the adoption of the Weed and Seed program and successfully joined with the City of Pittsburgh to have that program instituted here."

Mistick says many policies of the Bush administration regarding U.S. Attorneys were controversial, including the 2006 dismissal of seven U.S. Attorneys for vague reasons. He says the Obama administration will most likely stay away from those policies.

“We generally get top-flight folks here, because you have to get a lot of clearances, you’re going through a lot of procedures in order to be appointed, and by the time somebody does that, you can rest assured that it’s a qualified person.”

Mistick says the only name he’s heard up for the opening position is local commercial attorney David J. Hickton.

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